“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the “I” to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes for The Atlantic about alternatives to the confessional mode in literature.
Booksellers across the country have loaded up dollies with towers of boxes and carted them to the front of the store. Amazon has broken into its super-secret, double-locked, chain-link fence. Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is here. Understandably, other publishers have ceded this Tuesday almost entirely to the Dan Brown hype machine, but those looking for something (very) different can today find Joyce Carol Oates doing the zombie thing (not really) and the latest from Tao Lin.
Everyone should read this extremely important interview with Matt Gallagher and Phil Klay, two talented writers who are also veterans of the Iraq war. Klay won the National Book Award in 2014 for his collection Redeployment–even Obama loved it. From drone strikes to PTSD to finding purpose after war, this interview covers a lot of bases. Phil Klay’s Year in Reading from 2014 is a little dated but worth a look.
It’s safe to say that Jorge Louis Borges could have lectured on anything from watching paint dry to waiting in line at the DMV and the end result would still have been magnificent. Here he is teaching a little Buddhism 101, with an accompanying lecture by his close friend and UC-Berkeley professor Amelia Barili.